Plenty to do this winter

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016, a year of great uncertainty in our country and world. But really, what is new? Nothing really is surprising at this point in time and I'm guessing you feel the same. For sportsmen and women, we continue to find ourselves having to step up defense of our culture and lifestyle and are staring down yet another battle in defense of the Second Amendment. Despite the frustrations, it is the winter, and there are still plenty of great opportunities for great adventures here in New York.

Here are some of your options:

• Late waterfowl: Different zones have varying dates for their late waterfowl hunt. The late season for waterfowl is a lot of fun, although very cold and difficult as birds are smart and spooky. Scouting for a hotspot is imperative as birds know what field they want to be in and are difficult to coax otherwise. But with cold temperatures, they must eat to survive, and a cut corn field can be magical if you can withstand the cold.

• Predator hunting: There are entirely too many coyotes for my liking in this state. One of my best bowhunting areas was overrun with song dogs this year and we had a record low of deer sightings on this 80-acre piece. Coyote hunting is something I am going to invest time in learning better while I balance a busy show season schedule. 

• Sport shows: Speaking of shows, there are plenty of great regional shows to attend to get to visit great food vendors, outfitters, local TV show teams and companies. Look up what sports shows are nearest you and you might be able to meet various TV personalities or even the team at NewYork Outdoor News. A great way to spend a day for you and your family in the middle of the winter. 

• Steelhead fishing: Right now the tributaries are holding solid numbers of lake-run rainbows  and browns. If you re feeling adventurous, try your hand on the Salmon River, Oak Orchard Creek, Cattaraugus Creek and other tribs. Braving frigid temperatures but can be rewarded with monster winter fish.

• Small game hunting: Rabbits, squirrels and grouse all provide entertainment and excellent table fare. Small game are also a great way to keep youth hunters hooked on hunting and help continue to teach them safe woodsman skills. Grab a small caliber shotgun, put on some brush-busting camouflage pants and head out.

• Ice fishing: If you have not fished on hard water, you are missing out. I discovered Ice fishing two winters ago and highly recommend fishing Sodus Bay when it locks up. Great perch fishing. Don’t worry about tip ups if you don’t want to deal with pike. But if you know how to jig for perch in the summer, it’s not overly difficult to figure out how to translate your summer game to the winter. I love using the ice rods and getting a great fight. We’ve had a slow start to ice fishing season but it has to get better soon, doesn’t it?

• Post-season deer scouting: If your deer season didn't pan out like mine, the winter is a great time to scout and write out a new plan for your properties.  use the snow to find their travel patterns and look into what other timber management and food plot practices you can implement. I am going to work on writing a new plan and building a schedule for the year to make sure my November isn’t a disappointment in 2016.

I find it interesting that despite how insane the world is and the digital news feed which portrays the world essentially about to self destruct, when you step into the wild the outdoors runs on its own set of terms with disregard for humans. This is a peaceful feeling, a way to escape for a few hours.

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